Design your social spaces: 5 quick and easy interactive exhibits

TEDxSydney attendees brainstorm at the event's Post-it Collaboration Central

TEDxSydney attendees brainstorm at the event’s Post-it Collaboration Central

TEDx events are about more than what happens on a stage. A great TEDx event inspires invigorating conversations around ideas shared and issues facing the communities they represent. A great way to kickstart discussion is through the design of social spaces. Carefully designed exhibits can provoke, stimulate, and ignite meaningful dialogue.

Here are 5 ways to create thought-provoking experiences for your attendees in no time:


Photo: Erika Gatz

1. Get crafty: At TEDxGrandviewAve in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, organizers used a poster board, sticky notes, and one probing question to get conversation flowing at their event. “We encouraged our partners to do something interactive in the lobby with the attendees, one of our partners, AE Works did this sign,” said organizer Kacey Wherley. “They told us: ‘We wanted to capture [the event's] energy and all the ideas in a format that would spark some great dialogue and allow us to share our experiences with our team and other attendees.’”

Photo: Instagram user shenjustshen.

2. Stage a photo op: Create photo-ready signs that invite attendees to answer big questions. Just one sentence on a piece of paper can spark conversation, deep thinking, and a lot of Instagram posts. Above, a snapshot of a TEDxYouthDay participant completing the 2012 TEDxYouthDay photo challenge — shared by Instagram user shenjustshen.

A Before I Die wall at TEDxYouth@Tehran. Photo: TEDxYouth@Tehran

3. Build a “Before I Die” wall: Many TEDx’ers have chosen to participate in TED Fellow Candy Chang’s “Before I Die” project, an initiative to create giant chalkboard walls that invite passers-by to finish the sentence, “Before I die I want to …”  in chalk, and share their biggest hopes, dreams, and goals for the future. There is a great guide to creating a “Before I Die” wall of your own on the project’s website.

Photo: TEDxUCDavis

4. Throw some paper planes: At TEDxUCDavis in California, a speaker created “Idea Planes” — specially-printed paper airplanes that included writing space to share one awesome idea for the community. Before letting their ideas fly away, attendees chatted about and bonded over their creations, wrote a TEDxUCDavis team member in a blog post about the event. TEDxUCDavis threw these in their theater, but you can easily take the activity outside or in a designated corridor. Find detailed instructions on how to make your own Idea Planes here>>

Photo: TEDxPlazaSantaBarbara

5. Plant (idea) seeds: TEDxPlazaSantaBarbara in Spain had attendees “plant” their ideas worth spreading in their “Seedbed of Ideas,” using team-designed construction paper / wooden skewer “plants.” More than 200 ideas were planted before the day was done, and the answers continue to be shared via social media.

At top — TEDxSydney’s Post-it Collaboration Central, which brought attendees and speakers together to brainstorm new ideas related to speakers’ talks. Watch a video highlight the exhibit here>>

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